Chapter 9

Down Under and Beyond: Australia and New Zealand

When the great explorer James Cook bumped into Australia in 1770, he sailed right by Sydney Harbor. Botany Bay, some miles south, impressed him more. Sydney Harbor has a narrow entrance, only three miles across. Unless you sail past its great rocky headlands, it won't strike you as a great harbor.

So, in 1788, when the British Empire charged Capt. Phillip with the task of setting up a penal colony in Australia, he sailed for Botany Bay. Phillip, though, soon did sail past those headlands and established what is today Sydney.

Another irony about Sydney, and Australia generally, is that many of the people sent here initially were petty criminals. Australia was a penal colony, a place to dump convicts. By 1840, when penal transportation ceased, there were 87,000 convicts in the province of New South Wales, where Sydney is, and 70,000 free Britons. Yet from this cauldron of outcasts and societal riffraff came some great entrepreneurs. There would be no Australia without the efforts of these remarkable people.

You see the legacy of these entrepreneurs in Sydney today. I saw Juniper Hall, built by a former convict who made his fortune in gin. Another convict turned millionaire dubbed his own hall Frying Pan Hall, because he made his fortune selling iron cookery. Australia's history has many such manacles-to-millionaire stories.

One of my favorites is the tale of Mary Reibey (pronounced Ree-bee), whose face graces the Aussie ...

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